Is anybody there?

I’m so used to the Spiffy Stores features, that I kind of take some of them as granted, and forget that some of our competitors seem to ignore basic customer needs.

Take for example, the Contact Us form. Practically every ecommerce site needs one. Customers aren’t going to be very impressed if there’s no way to contact the store owners.

So with this in mind, Spiffy Stores includes a Contact Us form automatically. All you need to do is create two pages called “Contact Us” and “Contact Us Thanks”, and add the Contact Us page to a menu, and you’re done. You can add some customization and additional text and rename the pages, if you like (keeping the page handles the same).

In fact, your Spiffy Stores site is setup with this all done for you.

I can’t believe that other hosted shopping cart vendors make you sign up for an external form service just to add this simple form. I’m kind of glad that they do.

Creating multi-level menus can be such a drag

One of the neat features that we have in our hosted shopping cart, Spiffy Stores,¬† is the ability to create multi-level drop down menus by simply dragging and dropping menu items into the right position in a tree-structured list. There’s a simple liquid tag in the theme template which then renders the whole menu for you automatically creating a drop down menu with multiple levels and fly-out menu items.

I haven’t seen any other shopping cart or ecommerce product that comes close to this.

Continue reading Creating multi-level menus can be such a drag

Is Australia Post run by Amateurs?

Ok, this is getting silly.

Australia Post provides a copy of their Postcode database, which we use to validate shipping addresses in our software.

This database is automatically refreshed on a weekly basis from the data that Australia Post provide on their web site. A couple of weeks ago, this data got corrupted as someone had inserted random blank lines into the CSV file. Not a good look. Of course the database load failed and the postcodes table was wiped out.

Fortunately, we have checks planted into the system, so we picked up the problem pretty quickly and restored a copy of the database from a backup. No big problem.

Today, we received a complaint that customers in the Northern Territory were having problems entering thier postcodes, which all start with zero.

It didn’t take long to discover that the brains trust at Australia Post central have decided to encode the normal 4 digit postcodes beginning with a zero as 3 digit entries. Thus, the postcode ‘0810’ is now stored in the database as ‘810’.

Now this strikes me as being a bit like amateur hour. Do these people know nothing about quality control or testing? We’re not talking about a small corner-shop operation here, but a large government organization responsible for providing a national service. Other people’s businesses actually depend upon this stuff.

So I thought, maybe I should see if there’s anywhere that I can complain about this latest problem. So off the the Australia Post web site I go and guess what????

“Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.”

The web site is down. On a Friday evening. Just when everyone has gone home. I wonder if it will be back by Monday?


I rest my case.

First-class morons.


Optimistically, I sent in a report on the bug using their contact form. Needless to say, I have yet to receive any communication from them. I guess their response is “in the mail”.

Further Update (29th April, 2010):

How good is this? What a class operation. Over a month now, and no sign of a reply. And of course the database is still broken.

Trying out some Social Media

Well, the new Google Buzz is out, so I decided to give it a whirl.

I might try to use it to keep everyone up to date with what’s happening in the Spiffy Stores world.

We hit a bit of a milestone yesterday as I finally finished the last of the pages in the new interface. So now it’s just a matter of tidying up some minor bits and pieces and then we can launch the new version in a couple of weeks.

Been Busy

I’ve not had much time to myself¬† lately, as we push ahead with the final phases of the Spiffy Stores development.

It’s almost done and we should be launching early in the new year. I’m just finishing up the account management functions so that we can manage our stores, but everything else is now finished.

We do have an early release Beta version available, and this has been up and running for over two years now and it’s fully functional. It’s just missing a bit of the icing that will see daylight when we launch the product.

You can get a taste of it here

SBS Hall of Shame

This is just a quick post to highlight the recent degradation of SBS’s SD transmissions…

Here’s what it looked like on 30th March, 2009.

Shameless SBS 30-03-09
Shameless SBS 30-03-09

Now here’s what happened on 20th April, 2009

Shameless SBS 20-04-09 Interlace Problem
Shameless SBS 20-04-09 Interlace Problem

The main problem here is that SBS is transmitting the interlaced fields offset by 1, which means the two non-movement fields are on adjacent frames and not on the same frame as they should be.

We can fix that, and this is what we get…

Shameless SBS 20-04-09 Interlace Problem Fixed
Shameless SBS 20-04-09 Interlace Problem Fixed

Notice how the image is much blockier than the top image?

Update: 29/04/2009

The incorrect interlacing problem was not present in the Shameless episode this week, but the macro blocking is still hideous.

SBS Shameless 27/04/09
SBS Shameless 27-04-09